By Carlos Alvarez
East Los Angeles College siblings Valerie and Michael Aguilar grew up playing baseball, but their relationship has made the game their passion.
ELAC softball catcher Valerie and third baseman Michael Aguilar began to play baseball together at a young age with the guidance of their father.
“Our dad would take us to the park to throw the ball around. He just wanted us to be active and not stay home,” Michael Aguilar said. While playing for the same team in little league, brother and sister began a routine that continues today.
“We played together until she (Valerie) was nine and began to play in a softball league, but we would work on our throwing and hitting eight hours a day. Now we have more on our hands, but we find the time to practice,” Michael Aguilar said. According to Michael Aguilar, 20, the eldest of the two, Valerie Aguilar is the superior player.
“She (Valerie), plays the game the right way. I dont know, I just think she is better,” Michael Aguilar said.
“I think we are about the same. Anyways, you can’t compare baseball and softball,” Valerie Aguilar said.
On the field Valerie put up dominant offensive numbers, earning her a spot in the All-Southern California All-Region team.
Valerie Aguilar led the softball team with a .413 batting average, hitting eight home runs, while collecting 37 runs batted in.
“Valerie is by far the hardest worker on the team. We are always on the same page. She’s a great teammate and friend,” ELAC starting pitcher Alashanee Medina said.
Michael Aguilar earned honorable mention for the All-South Coast Conference team. He was a force offensively batting .278, collecting 40 hits with 25 RBIs.
“He (Michael) is a tough, gritty kid, who has improved tremendously. Michael is a team-guy,” ELAC baseball Head Coach James Hines said.
On the field they look at one another in order to improve their own game.
“I try to pick up something from him. The attitude and that confidence he shows is something I always try to imitate,” Valerie Aguilar said.
Michael Aguilar explained that he tries to get some pointers from his sister when it comes to catching.
While attending Montebello High School, they both played the same positions, catcher and third baseman. The comparison between them began.
“We always hear people say, ‘Oh your brother or your sister plays (baseball),’ but we are not trying to compete against one another. We both go about our game, while keeping an eye on how we are each doing,” Michael Aguilar said.
While they keep a competitive edge on the field, they always remain humble, maintaining a respect for the game. “Our dad always showed us to not show up the other team. He wants us to play our hearts out, but never disrespect our competition,” Valerie Aguilar said.
Valerie and Michael Aguilar are continuing a family baseball tradition.“They come from a really good family. Their older brother played baseball here, a good baseball/softball family,” Erika Blanco, ELAC softball head coach said.
Following in the footsteps of their older brother Walter Aguilar Jr., who attended ELAC from 2011-2012, they both hope to continue to play baseball at a four-year school.
“He (Walter) has been the one person we both look up to. Our passion for the game has grown because we have seen where the game has taken him,” Valerie Aguilar said.
With their brother as their main role model, they also wish to follow in the footsteps of MLB player Adrian Beltre and USA softball and Olympian Jessica Mendoza. “I love how he (Beltre) plays the game.
He is fierceless and he has a conflicting attitude, but he plays his heart out,” Michael Aguilar said.
According to Valerie Aguilar, she loves the way Mendoza works on and off the field; always showing respect and never forgetting where she came from. On the field the siblings are both fierce competitors, but off the field they are complete opposites.
“She (Valerie) is quiet off the field, very respectful, keeps to herself, but aggressive on the field,” Blanco said. According to Michael Aguilar he is the funny one while her sister is in the background going about her business.
“He is a funny dude, who is cool to hangout with,” ELAC right fielder Zachary Ashford said. Their differences don’t stop with their personalities, but also in their academics.
“I’m just lazy when it comes to homework and she (Valerie) is more responsible with her school work,” Michael Aguilar said. According to Hines, Michael struggled with his grades his first year at ELAC, but during the past year and a half he has improved and should be able to graduate with an associate degree in the summer.
With the full support of their parents Walter and Isabel Aguilar, Michael Aguilar hopes to become a police officer and Valerie Aguilar hopes to become a softball coach.
“Their parents are at every one of their games. They are honest with their kids, but they don’t sugarcoat anything when they don’t do well,” Blanco said.
Valerie Aguilar said that their parents have raised four kids with only her father working, but they have always kept them involved with sports even though equipment for four children is not cheap.
“I think when we look at our parent’s sacrifice, that is what pushes us to succeed. They disciplined us, but they have never stopped us from pursuing anything,” Michael Aguilar said.
While their parents attend their games, when both teams are playing at the same time you will find them cheering on Michael Aguilar.
“If I have a 5 o’clock game and his game begins at 6, my parents will go to the start of my game and head over to his game. I guess he is the favorite,” Valerie Aguilar said.
Favoritism aside, Michael and Valerie Aguilar said that they know that unless they end up going to the same school, this will be the last time they would share the distinction of brother and sister playing together at the college level.
“Knowing that our parents were able to see us play is all we could ask for. We owe everything to them,” Valerie Aguilar said.